With much anticipation to possibly host Regional for this year’s NCAA Tournament, it was announced Monday that Texas A&M will not host and instead participate in the Morgantown Regional with Duke, West Virginia and Fordham. The Aggies will face Duke in the regional opener on Friday at 3 p.m.
On Sunday night the NCAA published a list of locations for the Regional rounds on Twitter, with College Station not on the list. A&M came very close to hosting, coming up just short of the 16-host limit that earned the privilege to host. The Aggies finished 18th and 22nd, according to D1baseball.com and the USA Today Coaches Poll, respectively. Not only did A&M not earn a hosting site, but the team will have to travel across the country for the regional round.
“You know, we thought we had a good chance [to host],” catcher Mikey Hoehner said. “But, it sucks when you can’t beat Ole Miss, that was their goal and we didn’t get the job done. We’re good away, we’re good at home so we’re not too worried about it. We’re going to take care of business in West Virginia.”
University of Mississippi swept the Aggies during the conference slate in late April, and followed with a win in May to knock out A&M out of the SEC Tournament.
“We didn’t play well enough to earn that last host spot late in the season, and I feel like Ole Miss took it away from us,” A&M pitcher John Doxakis said following the selection show.
The NCAA committee placed A&M as a No. 2 seed in the Morgantown Regional round, and the Aggies matched with the No. 3 seed in the Duke Blue Devils. The double elimination regional will also be the Aggies’ farthest trip this season from College Station, traveling 1,301 miles to West Virginia.
“Personally I like playing on the road more,” Doxakis said. “You don’t have to worry about taking care of the field and all that, you just get to go and play. I think that helps teams that get to travel, as much as it is fun hosting with the 12th Man and stuff like that. [But] being on a plane is a little more stressful — across the country, different time zones. We’re not going to make excuses for ourselves and we’re just gonna go after it.”
The Blue Devils finished the regular season 31-25 and 15-15 in ACC play, losing in the pool play round to Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament. Duke won six out of it’s 10 conference series, on the year, but has struggled defensively.
Duke has also had a hard time playing on the road and at neutral sites this season, staying just a game above .500. The Blue Devils will have to face it’s best pitching opponents this year in Morgantown.
“They’ve had a great year,” A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “[They’ve] been to a regional three out of the last four years. [Head coach] Chris Pollard and his staff [have] been doing an amazing job, they’ve been hitting .270 as a team; pitching at a really high level. It’s going to be a great test right out the gate.”
Childress said Doxakis will start game one of the regional, and expects to start left-handed pitcher Asa Lacy on the mound for the second game.
The winner of A&M-Duke will face the winner of the West Virginia-Fordham. The Mountaineers were given the No. 15-overall seed of the tournament, while the Aggies swept Fordham in the first series of the 2019 season.
The Aggies will face Duke at Monongalia County Ballpark on Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN 2.